D-I academic standards increased


For the fall 2008 semester of school, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has implemented a new – more stringent – academic requirement for incoming Division I freshman student athletes.
This new rule requires that prospective NCAA Division I athletes take a minimum of 16 NCAA-approved core class credits during high school, an increase from last year’s minimum of 14 core class credits.
A list of NCAA approved core credits can be found on the NCAA.org Web site.
The NCAA made the announcement in 2004 to provide student athletes with adequate time to prepare for the change.
For NMU, the rule change means that high school athletes with Division I athletic talent could fall to the Division II or junior collegiate ranks.
When asked about the possibility of NMU picking up a basketball player falling to Division II because of the newly implemented rule, head men’s basketball coach Dean Ellis wasn’t entirely optimistic.
“It’d be pure luck if something like that happened here,” Ellis said. “But I think there’s going to be a number of athletes that fall into that category.”
Ellis gauged that there were at least five players among Michigan’s top 20 basketball players who would be affected, and no less than six athletes in the McDonald’s High School All-American Basketball game that would drop to the Division II ranks for next season.
“The NCAA knew about the change, the coaches knew about it, but high school students didn’t know about it,” he said.
Men’s assistant basketball coach Dan Waterman said that often times, the athletes were simply uninformed.
“I don’t think a lot of them know – I don’t think that it’s common knowledge, at least – unless guidance counselors or coaches tell them,” Waterman said. “Sometimes I don’t think the kids check into that as thoroughly as they should, and that could cause some kids with (Division I) college basketball abilities some problems.”
In 2005, NMU was forced to deal with a like situation, when the NCAA required all Division II athletic teams to comply with the 14 core-course rule. Previous to the 2005 fall semester, the high-school academic requirement for potential athletes was 13 core-course credits.
Women’s head coach Troy Mattson said he’d ran into a situation previously with students not meeting academic requirements.
“Some of these athletes, they don’t know whether or not they’re going to be collegiate athletes when they’re freshman and sophomores, and they’ll drop a class to put them at 13.5 credits – and sometimes their counselors don’t even know about it,” Mattson said.
Ellis noted that the main reason he was aware of the rule change was because his twin sons, Dan and Dave, were planning on participating in NCAA athletics after high school.
“I caught the rule right when it started,” Ellis said. “I caught it and I knew my kids would have to deal with it, so we’ve horsed them through their high school credits – and they both have 17 courses, so they’re OK.”